Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Wrapping the Conference

As the WorldExpo trade show ramps up this morning in Las Vegas, yesterday’s “Supplies-side Economics” pre-show conference, presented by Lyra Research, is history and I will conclude my guest blogger status with this wrap-up.

First off, what a great name for a conference about the printer industry’s supplies aftermarket! It’s based on a phrase that’s historically of interest (RIP Michael Deaver), not nearly as trite and overdone these days as something that includes “two-point-oh”, nor as painfully current as an attempt at tying in some way the phrase “sub-prime.” (Imagine “Sub-Prime Supplies”? -- too soon!).

Second, can the one-day conference (a perfect length in mine and others’ judgement), combining insight from some of the industry’s brightest analysts and most savvy industry members, be summarized in just a few sentences in a blog post? It’s an impossible task, of course, but I’ll try. Borrowing heavily from William Chan of Ninestar Imaging, who kicked off the conference with an excellent opening presentation, the supplies aftermarket faces a myriad of obstacles as it looks to the future. These include the potential of smaller margins and disrupted business models (Eastman Kodak and Silverbrook/Memjet were frequently cited throughout the day); advanced technology from OEMs that challenges the industry with advanced chips and ink and toner formulations in the products, and IP in the courts; and distribution and other relationship and structural changes throughout the industry. The transition to a very strong color business on the laser printer further adds to the strain. BUT…the opportunity is a large one, very large, and ingenuity and drive will no doubt overcome the hurdles to continue to claim the 20+% market share and multi-billion dollar market the supplies aftermarket represents today.

And last, thanks to Lyra Research, especially CEO Frank Stefansson and Marketing chief Andre Rebelo, for the opportunity to participate as official conference blogger. And my appreciation to the industry speakers already mentioned in earlier posts, as well as the afternoon’s industry representatives, including Chad Golden, Marketing-Strategic Planning Director, Static Control Components, Inc., Mike Andreottola, president and CEO, American Ink Jet Corp., Tom Kinneman, president, Image Polymers Company, Mark Mallgrave, sales manager for the Americas, Sensient Imaging Technologies, Inc. and Edward O'Connor, Esq., Partner, Trial Division, The Eclipse Group. O’Connor spoke about IP issues from his very strong base of experience and knowledge, and also mentioned his book, which I’ll plug here. It’s Intellectual Property Law and Litigation, 2nd Edition.

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